Alien Religion Unrebuked

first_img(Visited 67 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Big Science only forbids some religions, like those with evidence. The wacky ones pass right by the censors.Defining “religion” is hard, but to Big Science, it generally means matters of faith unconstrained by evidence. Materialists don’t take Christian evidences seriously, such as the empty tomb of Jesus; those can be explained away by various rescue devices. Some unconstrained beliefs, though, have no problem getting published in scientific journals and on science news websites. One of the most bizarre is SETI: the belief in intelligent space aliens. Recent articles take that belief to new extremes. Let’s go from mild cases to what could only be described as paranoid.Giant Telescope in China Joins International Hunt for Extraterrestrial Life (Space.com): No real problem here. Data collection is defensible. Of course, nothing has been found for sure yet, but no harm in looking (as long as we don’t have to pay for it). Billionaire Yuri Milner forked over the dough for this latest project. He can waste his money if he chooses.Are aliens trying to tell us something? Brightest burst of radio waves detected (The Conversation): Carole Mundell takes a step beyond observation, wondering what certain radio waves are “telling us.” That depends on whether they emanate from sentient beings. Even advocates of intelligent design apply the Design Filter in these cases, giving preference to natural or chance causes before inferring design. Mundell speaks mostly about possible physical causes for the mysterious bursts, but ponders: “Nobody knows what causes these powerful bursts, but some have even speculated that the signals could be transmitted by distant alien civilisations.” The word could is a faith word.If we find ET, don’t talk to it, says the man who wants to find ET (The Conversation, Update 11/21/16): In this article, astronomer Charley Lineweaver and his friend Stephen Hawking speculate about the moral and intellectual traits of space aliens they have never seen. Judging from his beliefs about evolution, Lineweaver thinks aliens would most likely have evolved millions of years beyond us and would probably be hostile. His alien religion requires a kind of genuflection. He notes that Hawking thinks humans should keep their head low; “in the spectrum between, paranoia and unjustifiable fear on one side, and reasonable caution on the other, where does keeping your head low fit in?” Lineweaver concludes, “even if there aren’t any advanced alien civilisations elsewhere in the universe, keeping your head down is probably a good exercise in humility.”Why Our First Alien Encounter Could Happen Soon (National Geographic, Update 11/22/16): Ben Miller gets a pass by a friendly interviewer at NG in this article while he shares his religious beliefs about aliens. He thinks they will be discovered very soon, perhaps in 10 years. Why? Because “Once we find life out there, you have to think that other intelligent life-forms and civilizations exist as well.” Technically, that’s a non-sequitur. Bacteria on an exoplanet does not necessitate intelligent life elsewhere, unless one believes that intelligence is a necessary consequence of Darwinian evolution, given enough time. While Miller admits the possibility that humans are alone in the universe, he thinks his faith in aliens will end up evangelizing all the world’s religions:At the moment we are in this extraordinary position that our planet may be the only thing in the entire universe with life. So we would be taking a closer step to one of two extraordinary results: that we are the only life-form in the universe or that we are not alone. Either will be species defining. It will change the whole way we view ourselves: religion, politics, our individual psyches, everything.Aliens are everywhere, says Ivy League professor (Fox News): This one takes the cake for wildest speculation we have ever seen concerning space aliens. Columbia astrophysicist Caleb Scharf is floating the idea that aliens have evolved so far ahead of humans, they have transmogrified themselves into the laws of nature and even subatomic particles that surround us.The expert says our universe is the remains of intelligent alien life which controls all aspects of the physical world — from gravity to the speed of light.The theory helps to explain the great mysteries of the cosmos and also answers why we are yet to find intelligent life beyond our planet, Professor Caleb Scharf says….“Perhaps hyper-advanced life isn’t just external. Perhaps it’s already all around”, he said.“It is embedded in what we perceive to be physics itself.“In other words, life might not just be in the equations. It might be the equations.”He even thinks that we are the products of an alien 3-D printer. No wonder we haven’t found space aliens, he explains; “We don’t recognize advanced life because it forms an integral and unsuspicious part of what we’ve considered to be the natural world.” Scharf is a respected astronomer at an ivy league university. But if he takes his speculations seriously, he cannot differentiate inner and outer worlds. He has become a space alien himself.This “expert” would look good in a white lab coat, particularly one that he cannot get out of easily. Where are the censors? How come this “radical new theory” gets a pass, but intelligent design does not?The difference between Scharf’s alien-is-everything and the Christian doctrine of God’s omnipresence must be understood. To the Christian, God is the eternal first cause. Omnipresence is one of his attributes. To Scharf, material particles evolved into minds that took over. It’s the exact opposite: evolved materials turning themselves into masters of the universe. It’s the latest iteration of Satan’s old lie, “you shall be as gods.”Big Science should be consistent. If it cannot endure religion within its holy domain of “science,” it should repudiate Satanism, too.last_img read more

If Ants Like Rigid Foam, Should We Stop Using It?

first_imgWriting from the Pacific Northwest, Malcolm Taylor dives into a problem experienced by many homeowners and builders: a carpenter ant infestation in rigid foam insulation.“I am involved with two projects right now that have carpenter ant infestations — and in both cases they are in the foam,” Taylor writes in this Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor. “One is particularly difficult to fix as it is a flat roof with tar and gravel above and a wood tongue-and-groove ceiling, making it hard to get at the nests.”For a season, the owners tried to deal with the problem themselves, but their efforts backfired. Instead of a single nest, there are now “multiple nests across the whole roof,” Taylor says. Exterminators brought in to find a solution say that it may take more than a year to get rid of the insects, and of course during that time the ants will continue to damage the building.“When this topic comes up, typically the responses tend to fall into three categories,” Taylor says. “First, ‘don’t think about it — [foam] is used all the time so it must be all right’; second, ‘as long as the foam is dry they won’t move in’; and third, ‘treated foam is available.’ “ RELATED ARTICLES Mite-Out GREEN PRODUCT GUIDE Our expert’s opinionGBA Technical Director Peter Yost added this:I confirmed with two entomologists that carpenter ants can have satellite nests that are not damp, but that are in materials that are easy to chew and provide shelter and warmth. That is unnerving at best for all of us who have built with and recommended rigid foam on the exterior of wall assemblies.There is a relatively new high-density EPS product by Atlas called ThermalSTAR, which contains Preventol, a Lanxness Corporation insecticide. The ICC Evaluation Service Report (ESR-2918) specifically states that Preventol TM-EPS “is used to treat expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) to provide protection against termites…”If you look up Preventol in the PAN Pesticides Database, you’ll find more than one product listing. That is, Preventol has different forms used for different applications. While Preventol TM-EPS lists only termites under the pests that it can be used for, a form of Preventol called hs 100cs-50 is listed for use against termites, carpenter ants, and wood-boring beetles. Further, while the active ingredient in Preventol TM-EPS is listed as Imidacloprid in a concentration of 99.8%, the active ingredient in Preventol hs 100cs-50 is Deltamethrin in a concentration of 4.75% and formulated as a soluble concentrate. These two insecticides may share a brand name — Preventol — but they are very different chemicals.I tried to contact a leading expert entomologist — Mike Potter at the University of Kentucky — who has proved really helpful in the past, in no small part because the guys at Atlas strongly suggested that I sort out the different behaviors and preventions for termites versus carpenter ants by talking to a bug expert. But I was not able to connect with Mike Potter this time around.I think the final cut here is that we have one fairly widely available rigid insulation — Atlas ThermalSTAR — specifically formulated to be used below and above grade to resist termites but not specifically formulated to deal with carpenter ants.It sure seems as though if you are building in a climate and wooded site that carpenter ants favor, rigid mineral wool is the safest bet.Finally, I can find no evidence that carpenter ants are subterranean, as are some termites. Whether carpenter ants would be able to penetrate or be attracted to rigid foam under an at-grade or near-grade installation (for example, under a slab) remains to be seen.I will continue to try and work this through with Mike Potter. Stay tuned. Coping with Termites and Carpenter AntsDesign Buildings So It’s Easy to Spot TermitesControl Termites with a Bait SystemRoxul ComfortBoard — Disadvantages?Insulation Choices Taylor has found that carpenter ants will move into foam whether it’s damp or not. All they need is a source of moisture nearby. As to foam treated with an insecticide, he adds, no one seems to stock it.“As foam is now increasingly being used as an integral part of many structures, and often in a load-bearing capacity, how wise is it to use a material that is so vulnerable to pest and insect damage?” he asks. That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight. (To read a previous Q&A Spotlight article on this topic, see “Coping With Termites and Carpenter Ants.”) Ants are a wily adversaryWhen Taylor built his own house 20 years ago, the only foam insulation he used was a strip covering the second-floor rim joist. Ants found it.“The nest was on a sunny south wall which as bone dry when I opened it,” he said. “Unfortunately, by then they had also eaten a large hole in my top plates (which were not rotten or damp) and able to move down the wall to nest next to a baseboard heater. I surrounded the foundation with insecticides, but the tenacious and alarmingly intelligent colony found the one possible path out to forage by using my power lines and descending the pole on the street.”Although foam seems to mimic the decaying stumps that ants prefer in the wild, Taylor says, they also can be found in wall cavities filled with fiberglass insulation, often next to a heat source such as a fireplace or a wall heater.“I wonder if the seasonal swings in the moisture of exterior sheathing are enough to make them set up shop in usually dry and decay-free wood structures,” he says. “They sure like foam, though.”Burke Stoller, another builder in the Pacific Northwest, has run into his share of ant infestations in exterior foam, and it makes him wonder just how deep these insects will live in the ground. The only place he typically uses foam insulation is underneath a slab foundation (full basements are uncommon in his area), and he wonders whether he should worry about subterranean ants.“I am wondering to what depth we should be concerned about bugs tunneling under our footings and working their way back up to the underside of the slab, tunneling around in the EPS layer?” Stoller writes. “I share the concern Malcolm expressed, as on our Passivhaus projects we are beginning to see architects and engineers approve higher density EPS for structural load-bearing applications, and I, too, wonder if we are looking for trouble down the road.” Does the foam have to be damp in order for ants to like it?One person who has some experience with the problem is Building Science Corporation principal Joseph Lstiburek, who recalled his battle with ants in a 2012 article posted at the company’s website. Lstiburek had renovated a barn 15 years earlier, wrapping the building in a thick layer of EPS insulation. When the ants became an overwhelming problem, he took the barn apart to find out what had happened, and in the process found just two spots where they had made nests in the foam.“The message here is obvious: keep things dry and you will not have ants,” Lstiburek wrote. “By the way, keep things dry and you won’t have a lot of other bad things as well. The dry/wet thing with ants is pretty much proving to be the case in all the ant foam infestation cases I (and others) have looked at over the years.”To Chris M, who cited the article, Lstiburek’s story means that having a damp environment near the foam isn’t enough to attract ants: “Therefore one could deduce that if ‘having water nearby’ was the only requirement, then ants would’ve been found throughout the dry foam as well.”So, dry foam means no ants?Not necessarily, says Charlie Sullivan. “It might only mean that the ants prefer damp locations. If there were two ant colonies looking for homes, and no wet foam, they might have both moved into dry foam.”“Agree,” replies Chris M, “but keep in mind that research shows carpenter ants will live in dry wood but prefer damp wood, so technically there’s nothing keeping them from setting up shop in any stick-built structure. So, yes, absent a preferred (i.e. moist) environment, carpenter ants ‘may’ take up residence in dry foam or wood — or they may just move on.” Other suggestions, and a warningAmong other suggestions from GBA readers for controlling ants and termites:From Andrew Bater: Install a removable trim system at the base of a stucco wall to allow inspections for ants, as well as an opportunity to apply insecticides if needed.From Lucy Foxworth: Cover soffit holes with metal screening so insects can’t crawl through, and trim trees around the house so they don’t form a “carpenter ant highway” into the house.From Christopher Peck: Tape the top and bottom edges of foil-faced polyiso insulation with aluminum tape, on the assumption that termites can’t bore through either the tape or the aluminum facing of the insulation.Chemical insecticides are, of course, an option. But one obvious disadvantage of chemical treatment, as Andrew Bater points out, is the disconnect between building a healthy, green house and then having “to douse it with insecticide.”Further, warns Robert Ohle, there’s the possibility that insecticides themselves can dissolve foam insulation. “Twice I have removed siding, where the homeowners had brought in exterminators to deal with ants, to find voids where the insecticide had been applied,” Ohle says. “In both cases small holes had been drilled through the wood siding, insecticide injected, then the holes sealed with a dab of caulk.” Is mineral wool insulation a better choicer?Andrew C is concerned that the widespread use of rigid foam insulation, along with sloppy installation of flashing and other water-management details, will mean a backlash against green building and building techniques in which insulation goes on the outside of a building.Chris M has the same worries, and suggests that mineral wool batts such as Roxul ComfortBoard are a better alternative than foam.“Roxul has never made claims that insects won’t bore into their product,” he says, “but I’m not surprised, since in my opinion their product is generally sold in climate zones which don’t have termites.”John Semmelhack writes that as far as he knows, neither ants nor termites will chew through rigid mineral wool boards, and the insulation is too dense to allow insects to crawl through it. For these reasons, he prefers mineral wool to foam insulation in Climate Zone 4 where he works.Stoller is another believer in replacing rigid foam with mineral wool. “On almost any renovation project we do with rigid foam on the exterior of a foundation, or on an exterior wall near grade, we find an absolute ant farm,” he writes. “They love the stuff, and make incredible patterns to pull apart and view! So, we have completely switched (when we have our say on specifications and assembly design) to only using Roxul Comfortboard IS for exterior insulation detailing.“It can be a pain for much of the detailing around windows and doors, and for ensuring that all of your rainscreen stays completely co-planar for exterior cladding,” Stoller continues, “but we have learned some tricks over the years to make life easier. Not only does it appear to be totally bug-resistant, but even better is the fact that it is extremely vapor-permeable (+/- 30 perms at 1 inch), meaning that assemblies will dry much better than their exterior foam counterparts.”last_img read more

Hurricane Irma packing 175mph winds

first_img Related Items:#HurricaneIrma, #magneticmedianews Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Turks and Caicos, September 5th, 2017 – Providenciales – Hurricane Irma has not even struck any land mass as yet, but she is striking up a whole lot of fear as the storm continues to grow in intensity and makes it way toward so many islands of the Caribbean.  At present, Irma’s wind speeds are up to 175 mph and her trajectory, according to National Hurricane Center model, will send her across Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Inagua and Ragged Island in The Bahamas, along Cuba and the Florida Keys. However the path of Irma has had variations and so forecasters say we have to wait to see what Irma will do once the hurricane interacts with land.  All officials, from every country we have checked in with, are advising residents to take this storm seriously and to be prepared.   By Deandrea Hamilton Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp New, stringent posture on illegal construction makes fines, personal demolition and possible deportation legal says PDM Minister, law now passed August 30th – One Year since Hurricane Irma named FortisTCI announces bid to hike electricity bills, cites record $42m response to hurricanes as destabilizing Recommended for youlast_img read more

Tis the Season

first_img Holiday Hurdles 15+ min read What Not To Sell There is more to making the most of the holidays than having the products everybody wants. Shipping policies and procedures, timing, site design, payment options, sourcing and more all play roles in getting the most from the year-end opportunity. Of them all, timing may be the most vital. Experts and experienced sellers all sing the same tune: Start early.”You have to start very, very early,” stresses Hess. “Online, people tend to shop early, so we start about October 15.” Why so soon? Hess explains that his listings generally run 10 days. “If we start October 15, those seemingly early auctions will end October 25, the following ones will end November 3 and so on,” he says. “We’ll have only six to eight cycles to take full advantage of the Christmas holiday [season].”Others say October is late. “Theoretically, it starts on Thanksgiving, but there’s a lot of planning that starts before then,” says Joseph T. Sinclair, author of eBay Business the Smart Way. “If you don’t plan, you’re going to get caught short. You won’t know whether to promote something because you won’t know whether you’re going to get it in stock. September should be the target [planning] date for the [holiday shopping] season, so everybody’s ready to go in November.”Early is the time to line up a trusted source of supply, especially for items you think will be your best movers. “Make sure you have reliable suppliers who are going to deliver when they say they will,” stresses Schepp. “What could be worse than trying to put your listings up on December 15 because the product you were promised by November didn’t show up [on time]?”Another key early task is staffing. “This is not a time to scrimp,” says Schepp. “You might have to hire people to get your shipments out, and those are things you don’t want to be putting in place the first week of December. You want to make sure you have everything ready to go.”You may also want to change your look and feel. “Have your webmaster dress up your pages with a Christmas theme instead of using your normal template for your [item listings],” suggests Sinclair. One specific suggestion is to take advantage of the eBay gift icon. The wrapped-gift logo tells shoppers you can help them check an item off their to-do list by gift-wrapping their purchases and mailing them directly to gift recipients.Shipshape ShippingOffering gift-wrapping and delivery to a gift recipient can be a powerful word-of-mouth tool for expanding your marketing, says Barbara Weltman, a small-business consultant and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting an eBay Business. When the wrapped gifts arrive, recipients will be exposed to your business, Weltman says. “This is an opportunity to reach people who aren’t your customers, and perhaps gain new customers.”You may want to offer free shipping on Buy It Now items, says Schepp. “If you offer it strictly for Buy It Now customers, you’re giving them a little bonus, and you’re also encouraging people who want to get their shopping done and don’t want to wait five or six days for your [listing] to end.”Whether you decide to offer free shipping or not, make sure you ship sold items quickly, says Kitchener. “The main thing we do is ship fast, especially at Christmastime,” he says. “You get all kinds of people with deadlines.” Dangerous Threads ships via the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx Ground, and usually ships items within 24 to 48 hours, which gives most shoppers enough cushion to make sure their items arrive in time for the holidays.Because of those deadlines, take extra care to clearly explain shipping policies in your listings. Consider how you could simplify your shipping policies to make everything as fast and easy as possible for the hurried gift-purchaser. Says Hassler, “We include a standard shipping rate to the U.S., Canada and other international locations so people aren’t slowed down by having to write to us and ask for [the shipping costs].”When designing holiday listings, make sure your terms include accepting payment through PayPal. Faster payment means faster shipping, which makes it easier for shoppers to make their deadlines.To make it even more likely that gift-buyers will make their deadlines, you can and should consider refusing to guarantee holiday arrival after a certain date. “People will buy things on the 23rd of December, expecting to have them before Christmas,” explains Hassler. “That’s been a problem, so we’ll quit having [listings] a few days before.”Kitchener stops selling some products much earlier, particularly custom items. “We make some beautiful custom guitar straps,” he says, “and we’ll cut off the orders for those about three weeks before Christmas because of the shop time required to make the items.” Be sure not to promise buyers items you can’t deliver.Hess employs a more complex solution. As the number of days before Christmas shrinks, Hess Fine Art reduces the lengths of its listings. From the usual 10 days, Hess goes to seven-, five-, three- and even one-day listings. The formula is simple: “Count the days to Christmas, subtract the days for shipping, and figure when those auctions will end.”Selling PoliciesYou should also consider your terms of sale. Start by thinking about adding more Buy It Now items. “Impulse buys are better that way,” says Hassler, who does primarily Buy It Now sales during the holidays instead of the auction-style listings that are her usual method. “People don’t want to wait a week to get a book that someone else may have on Buy It Now.” To increase the speed of the sale, use Buy It Now with immediate payments through PayPal. The transaction is instantaneous and saves you critical time spent waiting for payment.During the holidays, it may be more important for you to offer PayPal Buyer Credit, which allows your buyers to finance their purchases through GE Money Bank, the financial entity behind PayPal Buyer Credit. “During the rest of the year, it might not be worthwhile for some sellers,” says Sinclair. “But during Christmas, when everyone is scrambling for money to buy gifts, they might [offer] it for one month.”When everyone is scrambling, they’re more likely to buy the wrong item, one that doesn’t fit, or one that just isn’t what the recipient had in mind. For that reason, returns tend to go up during and shortly after the holidays. So it’s important to keep a relaxed attitude toward customers who, after being relatively easy to please all year, have suddenly turned uncertain, demanding and difficult during the holidays.”You have to be a little more liberal and a little more giving and caring,” as Hess puts it. “You have to be more friendly and more forgiving, because clients are more emotional then in their buying habits.” Experienced eBay sellers say there’s not always an obvious reason why some items move better during nonholiday periods, but it does happen. Jeff Hess, owner of Hess Fine Art in St. Petersburg, Florida, says, “It’s difficult to sell large diamonds on eBay [during the holiday season]. Not expensive diamond jewelry–[that’s] easy to sell. But large solitaires, one carat and up, are difficult.”Likewise, holiday shoppers at Dangerous Threads, based in Nashville, Tennessee, snub the leather-craft supplies that are mainstays the rest of the year. Owner Bob Kitchener thinks he knows why. “It stands to reason,” he says. “You don’t want to hand somebody a gift of a pile of rivets.” Generally, experts say, holiday-unfriendly items can be anything not usually regarded as a gift.Celebrate All Year LongDon’t assume you’ve got it made because you nailed Christmas. The final quarter is the biggest for most eBay sellers, but it’s not the only important holiday season. For some on eBay, it’s not even the most important. “Halloween is a real good one,” says online sales expert Debra Schepp. Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day herald sales surges for flowers, perfume, candy and jewelry; themed decorations can be hot for Easter and the Fourth of July.Make a List, Check it Twice…You’ll be in great shape to take advantage of the busy holiday season if you prepare in advance for the rush. This handy checklist will help you prioritize what needs to be done:Get started early, as many consumers start their holiday shopping as early as October.Sign up for PayPal, and offer it on all your listings.Check your eBay preferences, and update your listing and shipping policies if necessary. You can also change your default template to give your pages a “holiday” theme.Find reliable supply sources. Make sure they’ll be able to deliver when they say they can.If you sell custom-made items, stock up on bestsellers, and start your listings early.Gather marketplace data via a Completed Listings search or other method.Sell in-demand products to boost sales this holiday season. Check Seller Central for hot items.For a useful merchandising and promotion calendar of important dates, visit http://pages.ebay.com/sellercentral/calendar.html.Check third-party sources for the scoop on what’s hot. Terapeak Marketing Research offers its own “Hot List” reports, based on eBay data going back as far as a year. The buzz on upcoming movies can be found at ComingSoon.net and Internet Movie Database. And check out “Hot Stuff” on page 48 for our preview of 2005’s top sellers.Assess staffing requirements, and hire temps if necessary.Order ebay/usps co-branded shipping boxes from the U.S. Postal Service.Order wrapping paper and gift enclosure cards. The eBay Shop sells eBay wrapping paper; type “paper” into the search box to find it.Reconfigure your shipping assembly line to accommodate special requests, such as wrapping gifts and shipping directly to gift recipients.Explain shipping prices and policies clearly to buyers. Consider offering free shipping on Buy It Now items.Save the DatesYour customers expect their purchases to arrive on time for the holidays, so it’s critical you ensure every item ships when you say it will. These guidelines on shipping basics can help you stay on top of deadlines–and keep your customers happy:Make sure last-minute shoppers know your terms and policies. Tell them clearly and in advance if what they’re buying won’t arrive in time, or if getting it there requires extra shipping fees.Keep in mind that neither FedEx nor UPS delivers on Christmas Day; however, both offer one-day shipping services. An item shipped on December 23 will arrive the next day. The U.S. Postal Service does not deliver normal mail on Christmas Day. However, if an order is shipped using Express Mail, the USPS will attempt delivery on December 25, unless it’s a Sunday.Priority Mail from USPS, which usually takes two to three days to deliver, can take up to two weeks in the busy month of December, so plan accordingly. Guaranteed service by your carrier of choice is the best way to go.Different deadlines apply when you’re shipping internationally, so check with your carrier in advance for details.Hot StuffBefore making your list of products to stock this holiday season, make sure you check out the latest “Hot Categories Report”. As you approach the high tide of holiday sales, the reports available here will tell you where both demand and bids for items are growing.But why stop there? There’s a lot more you can do to find out what is likely to sell well for the holidays. For instance, some categories are always in demand. Perennial holiday winners include cameras, cell phones, clothing, collectibles, dolls and bears, electronics, jewelry and watches, sporting goods and, of course, toy and hobby items.Want to know which items will be especially hot this year? Check the roster of Hollywood films slated for holiday release, suggests Jim Migdal, senior category manager for eBay Toys & Hobbies. “Those always drive sales,” he explains.With that in mind, this December 9, Walt Disney Co. will release The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, based on the perpetually popular children’s books by C.S. Lewis. You can find more info on upcoming movies at ComingSoon.net and Internet Movie Database.You can also find information about the categories you specialize in. The scoop on hot toys, for instance, can be found in forecasts by Toy Wishes. In the spring and fall, this journal’s editors list toys they think will be most in demand during the summer and holiday seasons. Another way to find forecasts for what will be hot this holiday season: Type “holiday watch 2005” into an internet search engine, and check out the results.Sellers of dolls and collectibles can reliably predict increased demand for certain items during the holidays. Prewar Lionel trains, Hot Wheels cars from the 1960s, and bisque dolls from France and Germany are always scarce and in demand at the holidays, explains Migdal.Climate also plays a role with holiday hot-sellers such as sporting goods and clothing. That’s why ski jackets will tend to outsell bathing suits. And when it comes to popular categories such as electronics and jewelry, consider offering more expensive items than you might at other times of the year–shoppers’ wallets are open, and they are, after all, in a giving mood.Finally, keep an eye on current events, and stay alert for one-of-a-kind opportunities. One of these occurred when a manufacturer mistakenly made just 6,000 Polar Express trains. Says Migdal, “They sold out very quickly, and we saw them on eBay for two or three times the list price.” For the latest hot sellers by category, go to Seller Central. Click on “Category Tips,” then click on “In Demand” under the appropriate category.Mark Henricks writes on business and technology for leading publications and is author of Not Just a Living. Everyone else may be getting out their sweaters, but on eBay, holiday time is the hottest season. For many brick-and-mortar retailers, November and December are the make-it-or-break-it months, when the offline world racks up as much as 50 percent of annual sales and an even larger percentage of profits. So it’s not surprising that eBay sellers report that the holidays are important to them as well. “We probably do a little more than a third of our business in that period of time,” says Jenanne Hassler (eBay User ID: jenanne), who, along with her husband, sells an average of $3,000 worth of video games and video-game books each month on eBay from Waynesville, North Carolina.Many larger eBay sellers have similar experiences. Jeff Hess, 54, owner of Hess Fine Art in St. Petersburg, Florida, does close to $5 million annually on eBay, selling vintage watches, jewelry, art and antiques. About 25 percent are holiday sales, says Hess (eBay User ID: hessfine), who adds that since he began emphasizing eBay over his brick-and-mortar store several years ago, the holidays have become even more important. “In the past, like most vintage retailers, we didn’t have a very active Christmas season,” Hess says. “Our season was essentially over by November 15. With the advent of eBay, we found we were more like the standard Christmas holiday retailers, [which see an increase during the holiday season].”There are a couple of reasons why the holidays are critical for eBay sellers. One is that eBay increases its advertising budget during the holidays, executing a wide array of marketing, advertising and promotional tactics to encourage buying holiday gifts on eBay. Every retailer should take advantage of the significant effort eBay makes to drive traffic to its site during this crucial time of year.Another reason is that eBay is so mainstream, it can’t help but be affected by society as a whole, says Debra Schepp, a writer in Middletown, Maryland, who co-authored eBay PowerSeller Secrets: Insider Tips From eBay’s Most Successful Sellers. “It’s becoming more and more true as people are more comfortable with shopping on eBay–and devoted to shopping on eBay,” Schepp says. “Plus, there are lots of things that make it convenient [for buyers] to shop on eBay, like the fact that you can offer [them] gift-wrapping and direct shipping to recipients. That makes eBay competitive with any online shopping [destination].” The proof, Schepp says, is the fact that the biggest shopping day of the year–the day after Thanksgiving–is the same for both offline retailers and eBay sellers.Best SellersSince making the most of the holiday season is a priority for most businesses on eBay, where do you start? First and foremost, sell what people want to buy. So what are the hottest holiday items on eBay? “It all depends on what you’re selling,” says Marsha Collier, author of eBay Business All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies. “That’s the magic [of] eBay. People can come and buy just about anything, and people want just about anything.”The holiday hotties on eBay tend to mirror what’s hot elsewhere (and often what you can’t find elsewhere). As a marketplace of many small sellers rather than one dominated by a few mega-retailers, it’s truly a democratic free-for-all, with the decision about what sells ultimately resting in the hands of the buyers. “Since what’s for sale on eBay isn’t dependent on a big corporation or a bunch of executives deciding what to sell this season, it’s a reflection of what’s happening [all over] America,” Schepp says. “Anything that’s popular somewhere else is going to be turning up on eBay.”With that in mind, eBay sellers who want to make the most of the holidays should make it a point to know what’s selling well in society at large during the period. When an in-demand item is hard to find offline, buyers turn to eBay. For instance, notes Schepp, when the iPod was scarce in traditional brick-and-mortar channels last year, units were still available on eBay–and selling like hot cakes.A few recurring themes outline what makes a product hot during the holidays. For instance, Hassler, 37, says higher-end rare books sell better during the holidays than at other times of the year. In other words, if you’re selling products like watches during the holidays, think Rolex. Bundled products–items sold together at a special price–are also better sellers during that period, Hassler says: “It’s a focus on items that may not sell during the [rest of the] year because you’re not going to buy them for yourself, but you’re going to put them on your wish list.”One-of-a-kind custom orders also move better during the holidays for Bob Kitchener, owner of Dangerous Threads, a Nashville, Tennessee, eBay retailer of leather goods and craft items (eBay User ID: bobkitchener). “Custom stuff is really good at Christmastime, along with customized things like [guitar] straps and belts with names on them,” says Kitchener, 53.The price tag is likewise a key indicator of what will sell for Hess. “It seems like everything expensive sells better during the holidays,” he explains.To know everything about what sells, you’d have to survey all eBay sellers, or at least a large sample of them. Luckily, you can use a variety of tools that track, analyze and report on the bestselling items instead. The “Hot Categories Report” is an eBay tool for sellers that lists Hot, Very Hot and Super Hot categories each month based on factors including month-over-month bid growth, bids-per-item and conversion rate. To view the report, go to Seller Central, click on “What’s Hot,” then click “Hot Items by Category.” eBay Pulse gives you a sense in real time of what people are looking for. You can also find out what items are hot in a particular category by going to Seller Central, clicking on “Category Tips,” and clicking on “In Demand” under any category.There are also third-party sources for information on what’s hot for the holidays. Terapeak Marketing Research licenses eBay transaction data and goes back as far as a year to provide its own “Hot List” reports. Andale is a third-party subscription service that includes detailed research tools, including information on hot-selling products.Finally, don’t neglect to place at least some trust in your own well-honed instincts, advises Jim Migdal, senior category manager for eBay Toys & Hobbies. He’s been impressed and occasionally amazed at how eBay retailers seem to intuitively stay ahead of hot-item trends. “Our sellers just have a nose for that stuff,” he says. “And they find it and get it on the site.”center_img It’s All in the Timing Holiday selling isn’t, in fact, all about having fun and making a bunch of money. The holidays present special challenges in addition to trickier sourcing and more frequent returns.For instance, if you gift-wrap and send items directly to the recipients, you won’t be protected by the PayPal Seller Protection Policy, because that applies only when items are sent to verified addresses. You’ll need to decide how much your customers will appreciate being able to ship wrapped gifts directly to recipients, and balance that against the value of PayPal coverage. “It is very convenient to have items shipped directly to the recipient,” says Collier, who adds that you don’t have to advertise your gift-wrap policy, but can apply it on a case-by-case basis. “If you get a special request and the person has a good feedback rating and you’re comfortable with the situation, you might want to do it,” she says. If you do choose to offer gift services, practice your due diligence. It’s a great strategy for the holidays that could lead to many more sales.Another issue: Since every other holiday-savvy eBay seller is going to be tuned in and looking for the next hot product, it’s going to be that much harder for you to be first. And if you do happen to find yourself with a garage full of hot-selling items, your holiday-happy rivals may realize it nearly as soon as you do and flood the market with their own similar items. “If you find something is selling really well, you can’t be complacent with it,” warns Schepp. “Ultimately, it’s going to show up on the hot list, and everybody’s going to see it. You can easily end up with an overstocked item when the bottom drops out.” Use eBay resources such as the “Hot Categories Report” and Completed Items searches to keep tabs on the competition and avoid having too much “me, too” product on hand.Remember, as eBay has grown into a global, multi-cultural phenomenon, the meaning of the holidays has gotten less clear in terms of the entire audience of buyers on eBay. So while you should certainly try to take advantage of the end-of-the-year gifting binge, it’s also important to do it in a way that recognizes cultural differences. Many eBay buyers don’t celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or other year-end holidays, or they celebrate differently.For instance, in Canada, the biggest shopping day of the year is traditionally not the day after Thanksgiving, but the day after Christmas, a holiday known as Boxing Day and celebrated in Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand. Keep such differences in mind. Advertising only a “holiday sale” instead of a “Christmas sale” will help you remain inclusive. “You need to be selling for everybody,” advises Collier, who suggests simply promoting a “sale” in your listing titles and saving the rest of the character count for important keywords.If there’s one overriding and enduring theme to the holidays, it may be that this is when you should keep an open mind, be creative and be willing to do things differently. While it’s certainly nice to get some extra sales at the holidays, it can be even better to learn something new that will help sustain your sales throughout the year. “The holidays are a great time to experiment because there’s a lot of traffic,” says Sinclair. “If you want to experiment with what sells and what doesn’t, what sells better on sale and off, you’ll get better feedback during the holidays than at other times of year.” Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. August 31, 2005last_img read more

CrowdCall App Revolutionizes Conference Calling

first_img This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Free March 5, 2013 No assembly required: Randy Adams’ CrowdCall streamlines group calling.Photo © David Fentoncenter_img SocialDial was a simple idea: an app that would call contacts through their LinkedIn profiles, without users having to know the phone number. But a few months and 50,000 downloads after the app’s 2011 launch, SocialDial co-founder Randy Adams and his partners realized that a group-calling option that was “buried under two or three layers of menus” was being used far more than any other feature.The popularity of that feature led the team to ditch the original service and launch CrowdCall, a specialized conference-calling app available for iOS and Android smartphones and the web. Instead of scheduling a dial-in line, e-mailing all parties involved and then hoping everyone calls at the appointed time, CrowdCall’s interface lets users choose up to 20 participants from their contacts list and LinkedIn connections and dial them immediately (assuming the contacts have added their phone number to their LinkedIn profiles). When participants answer, they simply push “1” to enter the conference–they don’t even need to have the app to participate.The pivot worked. Approximately three months after the mobile launch last spring, roughly 100,000 people were using the app on a weekly basis. The majority of users were taking advantage of the free version (limited to 500 minutes per month). Revenue from sales of premium versions–priced at $9.99 for 1,000 minutes per month; $49.99 for 10,000 minutes; or $99.99 for unlimited calling–reached nearly $100,000 about four months after launch. Adams’ CrowdCall is now used for some 30,000 calls in the U.S. per month.The app has a mix of commercial and consumer users, but one feature in particular makes it attractive to small businesses. Because the call originator controls invitations, unauthorized participants can’t use dial-in information to access the call, providing a measure of security when discussing sensitive information.Word-of-mouth has been the app’s growth driver–each time someone receives a CrowdCall, that person become a potential customer. “We haven’t spent a dime trying to acquire users,” Adams says.So far the company has raised more than $1 million to launch the app and is working on acquiring $5 million in venture funding, which it hopes to close by the end of the year. That money will be used to build out infrastructure, including an investment in servers to better handle overwhelming demand.Sounds like a good call. 2 min read This story appears in the February 2013 issue of . Subscribe »last_img read more

100 Engineers Are Trying to Bring Elon Musks Hyperloop Dream to Life

first_imgDecember 19, 2014 Imagine shooting like a bullet from San Francisco to Los Angeles in only 30 minutes, zipping at just below the speed of sound through a steel vacuum tube, strapped into a spacey aluminum pod. Buh-bye traffic. Hello, Hyperloop.Yes, that Hyperloop – the crazy one Elon Musk proposed as the “fifth mode of transport” back in August 2013 but had no time to realize. (The former PayPal Mafia member was too busy sweating artificial intelligence and making history at the helm of SpaceX and Tesla. Give the guy a break.)Related: Japan Proposes ‘Super-Maglev’ Train Connecting Baltimore to D.C. in 15 MinutesNow, thanks to 100 of some of the world’s smartest engineers and designers, Musk’s Jetson-esque Hyperloop vision isn’t forever on the backburner. The dream team is now officially clocking hours for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc. [HTT], a unique JumpStartFund collaborative that formed back in September. Its express mission is to rise to the challenge laid out in Musk’s 57-page Hyperloop whitepaper.The company yesterday released several documents detailing its ambitious plans moving forward. On top of needing to raise an estimated $16 billion to bring a commercially viable operation to fruition, the brains at HTT certainly have their work cut out for them. There are plenty of tricky physics, funding, construction and legal roadblocks assured ahead.Related: Here’s Elon Musk’s Plan to Deliver Internet Access to BillionsStill, HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn says the high-speed, solar-powered transport could become a reality in the next decade or so. If you regularly brave the almost 400-mile drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles — and a lot of commuters do — that’s not soon enough. The Hyperloop could get you there at a brisk 760 mph, in the length of a typical yoga class, in theory at least. And it won’t be terribly expensive. It’s expected to cost around only $30 per quick trip.An L.A.-to-SanFran Hyperloop trip isn’t likely geographically and politically feasible, though, so HTT engineers are looking into alternate routes. Vegas, anyone? Los Angeles to Sin City might be a more attractive first route. Wherever the Hyperloop eventually debuts, yes, please, sign us up for a first ride.Related: Why California Can’t Be Home to the Hyperloop 2 min readlast_img read more